Expert Advice

Expert Advice: Need Sleepy Dust and Tips for Your Slumber Strikers?

Are you struggling to get your baby to sleep? Or, do you have trouble falling asleep as an adult?

I LOVE SLEEPING and the benefits of sleep are aplenty! However, ever since becoming a mother, sleeping through the night for me became a distant dream. To make matters worse, my daughter was a professional nap striker since she was a newborn. We didn’t hire a baby sleep expert at that time because we thought the issue would naturally sort out on its own.

More than 8 years have passed but I clearly remember how my maternity days went: Rocking her in my arms while doing squats in an attempt to make her nap. I was basically the human cradle! Had to do all that before I gingerly tried to put her down in her baby cot; it was really like a time bomb which might start crying because she couldn’t feel or smell me!

After my life changed upon welcoming 2 kids, this snooze affair continued to be a concern for us. I was breastfeeding through the night (aka all-night buffet) with my boy. I was sleep deprived, easily triggered and agitated thanks to the accumulated sleep debt. This was also why we had to stop breastfeeding abruptly. Sobs.

It seems like a common issue for parents with young children, but it doesn’t have to be. These days, there are baby sleep experts who guide tired parents through their sleep consultant programs. It’s also about practicing gentle sleep training techniques that WORK; no longer about Crying It Out (CIO) sleep methods. Or, just trying to bear the brunt of your cranky kids refusing sleep.

In August 2020, I hosted an IG live interview with Zoe Chu, a speaker, author and adult and baby sleep expert. As the sleep fairy behind Sleep Supernanny (previously known as SG Supernanny), she’s on a mission to empower tired and sleep deprived parents to get back their precious sleep. Turning mombies into sleeping beauties, one at a time!

Zoe Chu baby sleep expert in Singapore
Every parent want their babies to sleep through the night, so they can get good rest or have their own “me time” at night. Zoe Chu, Baby Sleep Consultant in Singapore, aims to help tired parents reclaim their rest. Photo credit: Zoe Chu

Sorry, I took so long to transcribe the sleep questions and challenges we received from parents that Zoe has kindly addressed! Could have popped another baby HAHA! Watch the IG Live here!

Got a burning question about tackling your child’s sleeping habits? Unsure how to start a good sleep routine for your toddler? Trying to figure out how to help baby sleep through the night? Find out what other sleep concerns parents are facing and know that you can get your sleep back by fostering healthy sleep habits! We are NOT alone!

Let’s hear it from the baby sleep expert! Putting down the questions we discussed for easy reading:

Does sleep training work for older kids or is it too late for us? Can sleep training start at any age? – Mum of 2 boys 5yo and 7yo.

It’s never too late! We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping and sleep is a biological need, not a luxury. Young children deserve to learn healthy sleep habits because there’s a co-relation between adult insomnia and what some of my adult clients are experiencing. The importance of good quality sleep is very important not just for our kids, but also for parents’ wellness, energy levels and sanity. Start now, if you can.

Is it okay to use sleeping aids to help my baby fall asleep? eg. toys with white noises.

I’d recommend a sleeping buddy or sleeping toy. Most of us are visual learners, including babies. When they see the toy, they know they’re supposed to sleep. Pacifiers are sleep props. A pillow or teddy bear to hug are okay too, or something for baby to suck or chew works because their gums might be itchy. Sucking and chewing helps to relieve their discomfort and they learn to self-soothe too.

My son naps well for 2 hours in school but can’t nap when he’s at home with us. Is it because he’s sleeping too much? Or, does he just want to go on a strike?

Parents are his comfort zone, he wants to be spending time with you at home instead of napping. Possible that the nap routine at home has not been instilled; there’s also no reward for nap time or consequences for skipping naps. Toddlers love pushing boundaries too; just like my own daughter. I’ll tell her the benefits of a good sleep. If she missed her nap as she’s overstimulated during the day, I’ll move her bedtime earlier and she’d go to bed and sleep easily.

How can we reward our child to sleep better, in a bid to instill better sleep habits?

You know your child best! If your child likes food, that’s works. Stickers are good too for kids who like them. Pick something that would motivate your children.

My child takes a very long time to fall asleep at night. Why is this so, and how can I change it?

It’s true he wants to spend more time with you. After you’ve done the bedtime routine with him to wind down, there must be rules for him to lay down quietly. To kids, sleep is the last thing they want to do. I’d advise my clients to let their children fall asleep independently on their own. If you’re in the room when they’re trying to fall asleep, it makes it harder for them as your presence may be overstimulating for them. Falling asleep without you in the room can be less disruptive; if they wake in the middle of the night and you’re not beside him, he will start looking for you. That ends up as broken sleep too. These steps will help your little one sleep through the night better too.

baby sleep expert things that affect primary school kids sleep schedule
Many kids in Singapore and adults don’t get enough rest. How can we establish a healthier sleep habit and improve our health too? Photo credit: Zoe Chu

Do it mean that co-sleeping is not encouraged?

We’ve to think long term, so co-sleeping is not very conducive and safe especially when babies can turn. I believe babies should sleep in their own cot to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If space is an issue like many families, consider investing in a portable partition to let your child have his own space too.

What’s the earliest one can sleep train? Also, how does sleep training look like during a sleep regression? – Mum of 10-month old baby.

You can start guiding your child through healthy sleep habits from Day One. The infamous 4-month sleep regression happens at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 24 months old as it coincides with their developmental milestones. It hits harder for parents who have yet to instill a sleep routine like baby self-settling. Some parents wait for the sleep regression to be over but it might not always happen. The earlier you start, the easier it would be to manage baby’s sleep during a regression phase. Research shows that 84% of babies with sleep issues continue to have trouble sleeping when they get older, and have broken sleep.

What can I do to help baby connect his sleep cycle during naps? He’s like an alarm clock and will stir at the 40-45min mark, but once he manages to get through that, he naps for at least 1.5-2hr. – Mum of 6-month old baby

Firstly, make sure baby knows how to self-settle. He would be able to connect on his own, if so. A typical sleep cycle is 40-45min or 30mins for some babies. Most of the time, parents are helping them to connect the sleep cycle e.g. by rocking, nursing or giving the pacifier. Hence, they can’t connect on their own.

My mum, who was my child’s caregiver when I returned to work, had to use a cradle (yao lan) to rock my baby to sleep during the day. Seems like we shouldn’t have used that, right?

A cradle is a sleep prop, and when I was looking after my twins by myself back in New Zealand, I used that too. This relates again to letting our kids learn to self-settle. Once they’re able to do that independently, my clients can pass their children to their grandparents/other caregivers who will continue the routine easily. When that happens, it’s much easier for the adults and the children get good quality rest too.

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Zoe baby sleep expert’s 5-step system & sleep tips for parents:

#1: Understand the science of sleep

#2: Prepare the ideal sleep environment for your child

#3: Establish an age-appropriate sleep schedule and routine for your child

#4: Draw up a sleep plan

#5: Teach your child how to self-settle

This baby sleep consultant in Singapore also runs a FREE masterclass for parents to learn how to help our kids get better sleep. Find out more about Zoe’s Sleep Baby Sleep Program that’s available to support parents in Singapore and all over the world too.

Are your kids NOT getting good, quality sleep? I hope these slumber tips on how to help babies and kids sleep better can offer some valuable insights to tired parents. Have a question about beauty rest? Leave a comment below!

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